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Diego Simeone absent as Atlético Madrid return to training

Nelson Vivas led the session with eight first-team players.


Atlético Madrid’s first-team players not involved in the 2022 World Cup were back in training on Monday for the first time since November 11, ending a 16-day rest period for the players who last featured in the Copa del Rey win over Almazán.

The eight first-team players present were Felipe, Reinildo, Mario Hermoso, Sergio Reguilón, Geoffrey Kondogbia, Saúl Ñíguez, Thomas Lemar and Matheus Cunha.

Jan Oblak and Stefan Savić were given extended leave and will not report back for training until December 1, meaning they will be back in action on Thursday.

Brazil v Switzerland: Group G - FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 Photo by Robbie Jay Barratt - AMA/Getty Images

At the same time, Diego Simeone sat alongside former Real Madrid players Ronaldo Nazario and Roberto Carlos to watch Brazil beat Switzerland in Qatar at the World Cup.

It’s expected that Simeone will be back in time to lead Tuesday’s training session. The coach has been present as one of several ‘FIFA legends’ and has been taking in games in the Middle East over the weekend.

Top assistant Nelson Vivas has taken charge of training in Simeone’s absence. Vivas, who joined Atlético’s technical staff in 2018, previously managed Quilmes, Estudiantes and Defensa y Justicia in Argentina before joining up with countryman Simeone. He stepped up as longtime assistant Mono Burgos’s replacement in 2020.

However, neither Vivas nor Simeone will be joined any time soon by the team’s lead fitness coach Óscar ‘El Profe’ Ortega, who is working with the Uruguayan national team at the World Cup.

Dani Castro has stepped up in Ortega’s as the man in charge of the physical side of the training sessions. Castro has been part of Ortega’s team since 2013, having initially joined the club in 2011. In 2018, he became Ortega’s first assistant.

With a limited number of first team players available, Atlético have invited B-team players to join them in the session, just one day after Diego Bri’s strike gave them a 1-0 win over CD Diocesano to move up to second in their Segunda RFEF group.

Following the return to training, Atleti will visit Ponferradina on December 14 for an honorary friendly to celebrate the Segunda side’s centenary.

The Rojiblancos will next face competitive action up against CD Arenteiro from Segunda RFEF on December 22, though the minnows have enraged visiting fans by putting away tickets on sale at a minimum price of 60€.

Atlético’s return to LaLiga will come on December 29, when all their World Cup stars will be back in the Spanish capital. Simeone’s men will face last-place Elche at Estadio Cívitas Metropolitano and will be hoping to put a bad few months firmly behind them.